An impulse for a Grand Adventure

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I have always dreamed of purchasing an Airstream travel trailer, throwing caution (read: my job) to the wind, and cruising the winding roads of America with no clear destination in mind and no end-date in sight.

Reality check: I have been married for a decade, I have a three-year-old son, I own a business, I run a non-profit, and I have a fat mortgage. I am pretty certain I am disqualified for this sort of adventure. Right?

Lifestyle limitations aside, my family has only one car (a 2003 Honda Element with 200,000 miles) that lacks the giddy-up to drag a traditional travel trailer around the country.

Daydreams and web-search procrastinations aside, I had pretty much put the matter to rest when I happened on a vintage trailer forum thread aimed at Honda Element owners. The post went something like this, “Want to tour the country with a travel trailer? Frustrated by the 1500 pound towing limit of your Element? Why not try a vintage Shasta Compact trailer?…”

Other than admiring one at a campground once, I had no idea what a Shasta was, what one should cost, and if my faithful Element could indeed haul one. But before I could say “See the USA in your Chevrolet“, I located a cheery yellow and blue 1969 Shasta Compact for sale in the Classified Ad section of the forum. One phone call and one wire transfer later, I accomplished my most impulsive purchase to date.

A little speed bump: Atlanta is my home, and the Shasta was in Warsaw, Indiana. Well, lucky for me, the in-laws live in Chicagoland two hours away, and we were due for a Christmastime visit in less than a week. Problem solved.

1000 miles and too many tanks of gasoline later, the Shasta ten-footer is now perched on a concrete pad in my backyard, daring me daily to think the unthinkable, plan the unplannable, and carpe the old diem.

Chris from MoneySuperMarket.com sent an email to the blog this morning, informing me that their company is offering £1000 British Pounds to a lucky travel blogger who schemes up the most creative way spend it on a grand adventure.

Where I come from, a pound is more a measure of sliced roast beef at a deli, but a Google conversion shows that £1000 British equals approximately $1600 in US currency. That may not go all that far for most travelers, but in the BlinkPacking world, that is a lot of guacamole.

So dear MoneySuperMarket friends, if I were to win your contest, you would find me slowly spending the prize by exploring the far reaches of America with my 1969 Shasta Compact in tow, blogging, Instagram-ing, and Facebook-ing all the way. $50 US buys me around 200 driving miles (322 km) with the trailer attached, which means that your award of £1000 would buy me 6,400 miles (10,300 km) of traversing the USA. Now, that would be a grand adventure.

Will I muster the courage to shirk the conventions of life in favor of an epic road trip? My impulsive trailer purchase, my entry to the MoneySuperMarket contest, and this blog post are all my way of throwing my ante onto the table and saying, “I’m all in.”

America, I will see you soon.

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28 thoughts on “An impulse for a Grand Adventure

    • …And I absolutely love your comment. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. It is great to connect with readers like you, and I wish you all the best with your adventures this year as well. Stay in touch. Cheers!

  1. What a fun post to read! My husband & I have been going through much the same thing you described! Maybe we’ll be as spontaneous as you and just buy a little trailer, too! Have fun on your fireside, camping adventures!

    • Well, we have yet to actually give it a try, but the trailer is definitely staring me in the face and daring me to go. I sincerely hope you and your husband will do something comparable — if not a trailer, then some other sort of grand adventure. And please do keep in touch about your adventures. Thanks for reading along. Cheers!

    • Hi — thanks for taking the time to comment. The inside is fantastic, lots of original wood but new colors and finishes to match the outside. The compact has a double bed below and a bunk that folds up into the roof. Just the perfect size for my family of three. Do you have a trailer? Where can we see some photos of it? Cheers!

      • I don’t have one yet–but I will! I haven’t found the right one. I loved your story about buying yours on impulse! Look forward to hearing about your maiden journey!

  2. Oooh I’m excited for you! I keep telling my husband that our retirement plan will be buying a trailer and driving around the US, seeing everything we couldn’t see for time/money limitations while we are working. If I had a garage or any place off the street to store it, I’d be on the lookout for one of these too!

    • Yes, this was originally a retirement plan for me to — but that is roughly 30 years from now, and I guess I just couldn’t wait that long. I hope your husband and you find ways to do something extraordinary this year, even if it is not a trailer tour of the US. Cheers.

  3. I love your Shasta! I know we love our vintage TT. It’s been the best way for our family to travel, explore and just simply be together. I’m so glad we bit the “bullet” (pun intended ;)). Enjoy!

    • Great to connect Corinna. Do you have any posts with tips about traveling with family? Specifically young kids? We are so new to the idea of trailer travel, and I am trying to learn all I can. Cheers!

      • Not yet. But I plan to as we are planning to make a cross country trip later in the year. I will say that we are still relatively new but learning new things with each trip out. We actually took a few weekend trips to local KOAs to test the systems out. They were good since they still had all the amenities in case something goes awry with the TT -AND- they usually have playgrounds, pools and trails for the kids.

  4. The KOA weekends sound like a good idea. Part of me wants to get out there for the big trip unrehearsed, but that is probably biting off more than I can chew. Are the KOAs reasonably priced? Thanks for sending the note.

    • On average we’ve paid $50 per stay at KOA. It depends where you are. In the middle of nowhere, it’s less expensive :) There are campgrounds that we’ve found through the Good Sam’s Club and reccos from others that are around $30 per day with the same amenities (clean facilities, playgrounds, wifi, cable, etc.). We haven’t ventured into dry camping, but I know the cost per day at state parks and such on are much, much lower. If it were just my hubby and I, we’d try it, but with kids from 3-11, I’m not that brave… yet.

  5. Good luck with your Shasta “Grand Adventure.” I can’t wait to follow it!
    Last year I impulsively bought an Airstream on ebay from Minnesota but live in Australia with 3 kids under 3! I’ve somehow convinced my partner to throw caution to the wind and we are planning a 1 year-long road trip around Australia in July. Talk about bored housewife huh?

    • Hi, and thanks so much for taking the time to write. Your comments make me feel like an adventure lightweight. I am really inspired that you managed to get the Airstream across hemispheres. I look forward to following your adventures as well. Please stay in touch. Cheers!

  6. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Hooray another adventurous soul to follow. I can’t wait to hear about this Shatsa’s Grand Adventures.
    Thanks to al13airstream.com for helping us discover this little gem of a blog.

  7. Josh, Do you have any photos of the interior of the Shasta? I would LOVE to see them. You asked in an earlier post if anyone had any suggestions about traveling in a travel trailer with a family, my only suggestion, DO IT! I can’t begin to tell you how valuable the experiences have been for my nine year old son (who took his first trip in our 1975 Serro Scotty Highlander when he was 2 mos old).

    Camping has to be one of the most family oriented activities there is. Seeing new places, making new friends, problem solving (there is plenty of that with an old trailer) all add up to great memories.

  8. Josh, I just adore your ’69 Shasta!!! I am also thrilled you just jumped in and purchased it and didn’t put your dream on hold any longer. We basically did the same thing with our Airstream purchase in November 2012. We had dreamed of RV’ing for years and we finally said “what are we waiting for”. Lots of luck on your adventures. Looking forward to reading all about them. Cheers!!

  9. Hey Josh, thanks for looking up my blog, I just was looking around at yours. I say just pack a bag and pick a direction and go to a place within a few hours of home for your first trip. If something goes bad, you can still get home or call a friend without much hassle. I say, make a Pack and Unpack list and leave it on the counter, you’ll use it the next time you go out and that trip will be smoother and so on… it’s not a contest ’cause everybody wins!
    Eron (tinytowables)

    • Thanks for the great tips Eron. This sounds like a good plan. Several people have advised a similar approach. I will keep you posted on how everything goes. I also look forward to following your blog. Cheers.

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